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ISSUE 118 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/5/2004

Flu shots limited

By Danielle Daniel
Staff Writer


Friday, November 5, 2004

Flu shots limited By: Danielle Daniel Students at high risk of developing complications and severe illness from the flu may still receive a vaccine even if they missed the Rice County Public Health clinics held on Oct. 22 and Nov. 4.

Michelle Johnson, director of health services, said students who are established patients at Allina Medical Clinic may receive the vaccination through their primary care physician or they may check with their local doctor when they visit their families over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Johnson said that if another round of vaccinations is offered through Rice County Public Health, then a campus-wide e-mail will be sent to notify the community.

Chronic illnesses that meet the high-risk criteria include asthma, heart and kidney disease, diabetes, cancer and HIV/AIDS. Students that are pregnant or working directly in the health profession are also encouraged to receive the vaccination, Barb Barlau, clinic manager at Allina Medical Clinic said.

"Everyone is at risk for getting the flu," Barlau said. "But the vaccination is for those at high risk for complications, hospitalizations and death from the illness."

Although most vaccinations are administered during mid-October and November, the Allina Medical Clinic usually offers the preventative measure through February, Barlau said.

All students can help prevent exposure to the flu virus by following the recommendations in the "Cover Your Cough" campaign, which includes always sneezing into a tissue and immediately throwing the tissue away, coughing or sneezing into one's upper sleeve  not hands  if a tissue is unavailable and washing ones hands frequently with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to remove germs, Johnson said.

"Good hand-washing is the best defense against bacteria and viruses because students touch each other a lot," she said.

Johnson said students can also benefit from eating healthy foods, drinking lots of fluids and making sure they do not become run-down. Students who do become sick should stay in their rooms and rest, especially if they have the flu, she said.

Johnson said the most common symptoms of the flu are high fever, cough, headache and sometimes even a sore throat. "It normally really knocks you out and makes you want to stay in bed," she said.

Johnson said students who experience a fever of at least 103 degrees, have trouble breathing, or have the illness for more than three to four days should come to the clinic.

St. Olaf officials will also be keeping their eye on student health.

"No one knows how this [flu] season is going to play out," Dean of Students Greg Kneser said. "Were hoping people will bear through."

The flu vaccination shortage itself is a result of the loss of 48 million (about 50 percent) doses of Fluvirin from the Chiron Corporation upon the suspension of its license due to bacterial contamination found at its British facility, according to the National Institutes of Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received some support from the pharmaceutical companies U.S. Aventis-Pasteur and Medimmune to boost the American supply by 3.2 million doses.





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